Building Progress November 2012

Update on building progress during November 2012…

The weather, time & family illness have pretty well shutdown progress this month.

One thing I’ve managed has been sealing the wooden kitchen furniture. After some research Danish oil seemed to be the best option. I didn’t want a hard varnish or anything too unnatural on the worktops so I was happy with an oil based finish and of those on offer Danish oil seemed the best. I sanded out ‘most’ of the stains – one particularly stubborn red wine stain wouldn’t give in to my sanding & cleaning efforts and so remains embedded in the wood as my kind of signature. I’d only intended sealing the worktops, but as usual with these sort of jobs, once you start, you end up increasing the scope and doing the lot. I’m pleased with the finish as it gives the birch a lovely rich finish.

I’m also on the verge of getting the completion certificate for building reg’s…. more on this to come…

Building Progress October 2012

Update on building progress during October 2012…

The flue guard that I’ve been building from perforated steel sheets, aluminium joints and resin based adhesive is finished and does the job of keeping stray clothing and children away from the potentially hot flue.

I had a visit from the building control officer at the start of the month. Went really well with just a couple of pieces of paperwork to chase up and get completed before the barn is signed off.

I’ve added extra security in the form of locking door bolts to the top and bottom of the exterior doors and locks on the roof windows. I must admit I think that the roof window locks are probably overkill, but the whole place is now very lockable.

I did some further work on the cabin bed in the second bedroom. I removed an annoying squeak that had developed between two touching but unjointed pieces of wood by inserting a small sheet of metal. I also reworked the walls around the bed to tidy things up and did some further work on tidying the boxing in. I’m thinking of using the whitening oil that I used of the stairs and banisters to give a toned down finish to the bare wood that I’ve used for the boxing in.

At the end of the month I was away in Brittany for the week, which helped contribute to my lack of progress, but did provide a great week away from things and an excellent time with my family.

Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Part D is about ensuring that there is no risk to the occupiers of a building from toxic substances used in its construction.

As of the date of writing, Part D was last revised in 2010 as a result of the Building Regulations 2010 and Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2010.

Part D Toxic substances contains the following high-level requirement:

  • D1 Cavity Insulation

This is a short document, of limited relevance to historic building convertors as the requirement contained in the document relates to cavity walls. In the UK, cavity walls only became a common template for wall construction in the 1970’s and a requirement of building regulations in the 1990’s so a wall cavity is absent from most older buildings.

In short, the regulations state that where and insulating material is placed in a cavity, reasonable measures must be put in place to ensure that no toxic fumes are able to permeate into any occupied parts of the building.

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Part C is about ensuring that the site for new buildings is prepared in a manner that will promote resistance to contaminants and moisture for the structure that is to be built on the site.

As of the date of writing, Part C was last revised in 2010 as a result of the Building Regulations 2010.

There are a number of subjects that fall within this part of the regulations. These include weather and water tightness, drainage and measures to deal with contamination and hazardous substances such as radon and methane.

Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture contain the following high-level requirements:

  • C1 Preparation of site and resistance to contaminants
  • C2 Resistance to moisture

There are three key aspects in the preparation of the site – that the site to be covered by the building & associated land is free from materials that might damage the building such as pre-existing foundations or vegetable matter, be free of contaminants and provide adequate drainage.

The regulations provide helpful information related to undertaking a risk assessment of contaminants and a high-level overview of some of the remedial measures that are available.

One potential contaminant that we all need to consider when building is radon. It’s not a major issue in most of the UK; the south-west is the area most at risk, but one we all need to consider. Start on the British Geological Survey website.

The second part of the regulation, that dedicated to discussion of resistance to moisture contains useful information related to site surveying, subsoil drainage and the construction of resistant floors, walls & roofs. A useful map confirms what we knew all along, that most of Wales is exposed to very severe driving rain. What would we in Wales do without the blessed rain…?

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

Part B is about ensuring that all new buildings are safe in the event of a fire.

As of the date of writing, Part B was last revised in 2010 as a result of the Building Regulations 2010.

Part B is split into two volumes. Volume 1 deals with dwelling houses and volume 2 with buildings other than dwelling houses.

The regulations provide guidance in areas such as fire safety in multi-storey buildings & domestic loft conversions, smoke and heat alarms, the use of door-closing devices and sprinklers, the materials used in the structure and the building methods employed.

Both volumes of the regulations contain the following requirements:

  • B1 Means of warning and escape
  • B2 Internal fire spread (linings)
  • B3 Internal fire spread (structure)
  • B4 External fire spread
  • B5 Access and facilities for the fire and rescue service

Pertinent to the barn are the requirements for escape from the upper storey. Specifically in the second bedroom, where I’ve had to change the window hinge (although I’m not sure where the need to open to 90 degrees comes from explicitly as I can’t find it in Part B) and install a radiator cover to provide a step-up to the window and a means of escape. For reference, a window suitable for egress from the building must be at least 0.33m2 and at least 450mm in height and width, the bottom of the openable area of the window must be not more than 1100mm above the floor.

Forthcoming Welsh sprinklers regulations
In Wales there is an additional future requirement in relation to fire safety just over the horizon. From September 2013, the Welsh Assembly government (WAG) intend to make the installation of water sprinkler systems compulsory in all new homes. They expect this to save 36 lives and prevent an estimated 800 injuries between 2013 and 2022.

The Assembly will proceed with the plans despite a report from the built environment research organisation BRE Global that estimated that the cost per life saved would be £6.7 million and concluded that “fitting sprinklers in all new residential buildings in Wales would not be cost effective“.

WAG Environment Minister John Griffiths said:

“We must seek to prevent avoidable death and injury from house fires and need to accept that there is a cost to introducing sprinklers into new properties.
These proposals are significant and important in taking forward fire safety.
Wales will be at the forefront of reducing fire risk and cutting the number of avoidable deaths and injuries caused by fires in residential premises.”

The Assembly is currently working on development of the new regulations that are necessary to introduce the new sprinkler law. These will be subject to public consultation.